DENVER (AP) — Former Colorado House Majority Leader Alice Madden on Thursday became the latest Democrat to enter the crowded primary to challenge Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, adding a prominent female politician to a male-dominated field.
Madden also worked on clean energy issues in the administrations of former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and President Barack Obama, as well as unsuccessfully ran for a position on the statewide Board of Regents in 2016. In an interview, she cited climate change as her driving issue and her frustration with Gardner, who is widely seen as the most vulnerable Republican Senator up for re-election next year.
"I know that I have the skill set to go to Washington and get change immediately," Madden said in an interview. She added, "I really couldn't sit back and watch as we miss opportunity after opportunity to get this country back on track."
Before Madden can take on Gardner she'll have to come out ahead of a jam-packed field whose most prominent contestants are male. They include Dan Baer, a former ambassador under Obama; former State Senator Mike Johnston; former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff; and former Denver-based U.S. Attorney John Walsh. Several women are also running, but the only one who's run in a prominent campaign is Colorado State University professor Stephany Rose Spaulding, who lost a challenge to Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn by 18 percentage points in a heavily GOP district last year.
Other women may also enter the contest, including newly elected Secretary of State Jena Griswold.
Gardner is considered vulnerable because Colorado has moved to the left since he won his first, relatively tight Senate race in 2014. Hillary Clinton won the state easily in 2016, and Democrats swept every statewide election last year.